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Hawaii Bowl matchup: Fresno State Bulldogs to take on Rice Owls

The Bulldogs came up short in the Mountain West title game, but the West division champions will head to the Big Island to face the Owls on Christmas Eve.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

WHEN: Wednesday, December 24, 7:00 PM PST

WHERE: Aloha Stadium; Honolulu, HI (50,000)

2014 SEASON: Fresno State Bulldogs (6-7, 5-3 Mountain West); Rice Owls (7-5, 5-3 Conference USA)

TV: ESPN

WEB: WatchESPN

RADIO: The Bulldogs broadcast can be heard in and around Fresno on the two local ESPN affiliates, 940 and 1600 AM, in English and Spanish, respectively.  The Owls broadcast can be heard in and around Houston on 1560 AM.

SERIES RECORD: The Buldogs currently own a 6-0 series advantage against the Owls.  In their last meeting, Fresno State defeated Rice in Houston 52-21, on November 6, 2004.

This year's edition of the Hawaii Bowl not only features two members of the far-flung WAC of old, but also an interesting matchup of teams who came up just short in their bids to repeat as conference champions.  The Rice Owls shocked the college football world by defeating Marshall in the 2013 Conference USA title game, but a disappointing loss in the season's final week in Ruston against Louisiana Tech prevented a rematch.  Here's a brief introduction to David Bailiff's squad:

  • The Owls had a similarly unforgiving non-conference schedule, and began their 2014 with losses on the road against Notre Dame and Texas A&M.  They continued that slide into conference play with a third straight loss, to Old Dominion, before they found their footing and ripped off six straight wins in the middle of their schedule.
  • You can argue that Rice beat all of the teams they probably should've beaten and lost to all of their superior opponents.  Their other two losses in C-USA action were blowouts by Marshall and Louisiana, the conference finalists.
  • Rice tied for the Conference USA lead in team sacks with 35 in twelve games, led by defensive linemen Zach Patt and Brian Nordstrom, who combined for 16 sacks.
  • Players with which you'll want to be familiar:  Patt and Nordstrom, quarterback Driphus Jackson, cornerback Ryan Pollard, running back Darik Dillard

Stay tuned to Mountain West Connection for more Hawaii Bowl coverage, as well as all of the other MWC matchups!